From Mark P. Shea, answering a question on how he’d deal with a couple that aborted a baby diagnosed with severe deformity (which certainly would have been fatal, if the diagnosis was correct):
Part of the difficulty here is that such questions usually involve several parts. What does God think? What would I do? What should I make of what those people over there did? And then we start feeling torn between obeying God when He says “Don’t kill” and obeying God when He says “Don’t judge.” And in our culture, “Don’t judge” has much the louder voice because of the great terror of “imposing our values.”
Let’s start with the loudest voice: “Don’t judge.” We are bound to obey that command of Our Lord, but we are also bound to understand what it means. It does not mean, as our culture takes it to mean, “Remain agnostic about the possibility of ever knowing what is right and wrong.” It means, “Don’t play God. Don’t imagine you know the souls of others and what motivated their choices, how culpable they are, etc.” The funny thing is, our culture is ready to play God all the time, while remaining unable to say if there is such a thing as right and wrong. So let’s set aside the people in the story, whom it is not ours to judge, and simply consider the act in abstract: the deliberate taking of innocent human life. Is it wrong always?
The answer is: Yes. Always. That’s what “You shall not murder” means.
That’s the other command we have to deal with here. I think, pastorally speaking, the best thing we can do with this situation is not adjudicate the souls of people we don’t know anything about concerning a choice they have already made (since that is way too much of a temptation to judge them, especially in cyberspace where judgment and condemnation flow like wine), but to first ask ourselves how we might respond rightly in a similar situation.
In talking to my wife (the actual baby carrier in this family), she points out the following: First, ultrasounds have been wrong. Second, miracles happen sometimes. Third, and most salient here: Every baby she has had is dying. The question is, simply, when?
When we put it that way, we suddenly realize something: Knowing that the baby is going to die sooner rather than later is no reason to kill the baby. It is, says my wife, a reason to love the baby for as long as you can while it’s here. That’s very painful, but that is the risk we take every time we choose to love, because everything we love in this world is mortal.
It may be objected that a headless baby cannot appreciate our love. I would reply that a healthy baby cannot appreciate our love either, because a healthy baby has no more mind than a headless one. The whole point of parenthood, especially in its earliest stages, is radical self-giving (like Christ) to a being who is wholly incapable of giving anything back besides a sucking reflex and a poopy diaper. It’s an analogy of the grace of God, the great wake-up call enfleshed, that It’s Not About Me and What I Get From It — a short course in the life of the Blessed Trinity.